in Espelette, the City and a private investor are fighting over a 600 m² building in the center of the village

Enrique Gérard described “a…

Enrique Gérard described “a very degraded building, unoccupied for years”. However, apart from a stall on the ground floor, where AOP Ossau-Iraty has a storefront. “Upstairs, it’s not clean, everything needs to be changed. “The businessman, at the head of 12 stores in the Basque Country, plans 1.3 million euros of work, “maybe more”, to create eight apartments there. And swears that he wants to rent socially. “This is a project that I will finance thanks to the help from Anah (1). The counterpart is the creation of social housing. »

He claims some experience. In Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, he renovated a building into five apartments: “Four social and one very social. It is rented for 365 euros for 70 m² of social and 200 for 55 m² of very social. “Except that the town of Espelette, also, intends to create social. So it is mainly, through the local public establishment of the land. The acquisition is made at the price estimated by the Estates, ie 810,000 euros.

I’m not a philanthropist, I’m creating a legacy for my children. But I don’t buy resale or Airbnb


For the investor, municipal voluntarism is defined above all by the obligations between him and the town hall. He acquired the old Spar convenience store, facing the market, which he turned into “venta Patxi”. The City would have preferred the electricity supply. “They proposed to Carrefour, to Leclerc. It does not follow. The purchase price is 380,000 euros, a grocery store will not make a profit. Enrique Gérard has settled down. He also bought the adjoining buildings. “Since then, everything I’ve asked for has been denied,” he said.

To preempt or not to preempt?

This is the question that the elected officials of Espelette should decide, about the place of the former Spar, bought by the private investor Enrique Gérard. For the opposition group Eskuz Esku, Yannick Jauréguy pushed in this direction. “The majority chose not to do this, because the private buyer that is running is in the process of the owner. The municipality prefers not to participate in this complicated file. We think that we have to assume it. »
The mayor, Jean-Marie Iputcha, described a consensus on the principle of preemption. But he confirmed the fear in front of the procedure that continues: “We could have recovered everything. It is dangerous for the funds of the community. »

The investor already has two “social housing” in the village and plans to build four more. It is argued that public power is in its role when it tries to control land and create social housing. That a social landlord offers additional guarantees about the sustainability of said housing. That the magic that self-regulates the market has not particularly proven its value in the housing market of the Basque Country… “I am not a philanthropist, he agreed, I am creating a legacy for my children. “If this exempts the tax on transmission, it rejects any speculative desire. “I don’t buy resale or Airbnb-type rentals. »

I think it was the ground floors that made him interested in selling


The mayor, Jean-Marie Iputcha, did not intend to trust the simple word of a private investor. “Anah’s aid is amortized after ten years, after the owner does what he wants. He can sell. ” Contacted by ” Sud Ouest “, Anah specified this: ” The tenant who benefits from our help is required to practice a regulated rent for five years, after which he is no longer bound by this framework. Just like selling. »

The first magistrate “found it unusual” in this desire to “do social work” by “a person from outside the municipality”. “I think it was the ground floor that got him interested in doing business. We, the community, are not looking for profit. Our social housing will stay that way. »

This is the stated goal. “We will work with social landlords, HSA, Office 64 or the COL. We have less and less building space, we want to densify the center of the town, so that empty buildings do not remain empty. “And try to balance a heart of the town that has collapsed with tourist activity, through a seasonal essence. The municipality refers to “two different buildings”.

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